Saturday, December 27, 2014


A few weeks ago I was awarded a Jerome Fiber Artist Project Grant through the Textile Center of Minnesota. (!!!) I am so pleased and proud to have been selected for this emerging artist opportunity. Click here for a little bit about last year's fellows and their projects (the press release for the 2015 program hasn't yet posted.) For more about the Jerome Foundation, click HERE.

With the grant money I'll receive, I am taking a number of classes (in the Certificate program) at the Minnesota Center for Books Arts. Using the skills I've learned I will combine book-binding techniques with my use of cloth to push my work off the wall -- way off -- into 3D sculptural/installation works.

It's a tight schedule -- the exhibit for all four Jerome artists opens at the end of August this year. Yikes! Gives me just enough time to take basic book classes between now and the end of March, and I'll need to start designing the work concurrently if I'm to finish two or three pieces by mid-summer. I'm keeping the concepts under wraps for now.

I'm looking forward to this year, an exciting time for me professionally. (Incidentally I haven't heard from the Rochester Art Center yet about their 3rd Floor Artist Program, and not sure what that means, other than that their timeline for notifications was a little hazy. I shouldn't be greedy.)

Check back here for regular updates, as I've made the mental commitment to keeping a more regular blogging schedule throughout this year, for the purpose of reflection and recording. Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hard(ly) at Work

Well, what's new? A lot, as it turns out! 
I have submitted an application for the 3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series at Rochester Center for the Arts; 
I have submitted an application for the Jerome Fiber Artist Project Grant at the Textile Center of MN; 
I am in a studio at the Northeast Arts District's' Northrup King Building, which I share with several other artists, primarily as a display space; 
I am about to start teaching quilting classes for our local fabric emporium, Crafty Planet; 
I will have work in a show (DEADLINE ALERT) that opens at the end of this month, "Can These Bones Live?"; 
I will have work (nothing new thankfully) in an Altered Esthetics Alumni Show at the end of this year; 
I SHOULD have work in the "Common Thread" members exhibit at the Textile Center this year (if I get my shit together);
and I have a bunch of things I need to post in my new Etsy shop. 

And that's probably not all. 

But there are so many spinning plates at this point, it hardly matters... Feast or famine folks. Earlier this year I was despairing that nothing seemed to be coming down the pike. HA!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

encaustic: book in progress



Encaustic medium, beeswax, oil stick, recycled book boards.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where does the time go?

So, last time I checked in at the beginning of August, I mentioned I had booked my first booth at a local art fair. WRONG! I came down with the flu instead, a product of exhaustion plus summer spent with dozens of little kids at work. Given this and the State Fair rejection, I was ready for a break by the time we went to the lake. My Travellers Quilt project/online class had completely stalled out for me, I was stuck on on ideas for the Food Project work, and just generally feelin' crappy. One thing I did have to look forward to was a skirt-making class at the local hotspot, Crafty Planet. This would take up two Saturday afternoons towards the tail end of my vacation time.

I brought several items with me to work on at the lake: the Star Bright quilt that I'd started over the winter, which needed a border and back; the crows piece, which I'm still putzing with off and on; and a bunch of book art supplies, plus a small square piece that I started recently, which I love (more on that later.) Plenty of homework.

What quickly got me jazzed up was eco-dyeing and printing some watercolor papers for handmade books. Weather towards the end of the trip was drippy, and a good opportunity to hang out by the stove with a pot of boiling water and some leaves and petals.

Purple iris and a host of tree leaves made for some fun experiments! And I started sewing in my pages as soon as the covers were pressed and sewn, using recycled materials from home and work.

This in turn set off a flurry of paper-boiling, flower-picking and household humidity after we returned. It's a little out of control.

I can't explain what's so satisfying about staining paper and sewing it into little books; I'm entertaining myself very well though. And between this and a successful skirt class (I can insert a zipper!) I was starting to feel like life and light might be returning...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Continuing on in this vein...

I made the dubious decision to sign up for a vendor spot at a neighborhood festival this coming Saturday, and have been hunkered down in the evenings, trying to stock up. I hope to bring at least a half-dozen encaustics, some sun-dyed fabric, some over-dyed yardage, and hopefully some pillows and coffee warmers. I don't have high hopes about the quantity of stock -- and have never done a vendor fair -- and might not have a tent -- and not sure what I will use for tables. Hmm. Spur of the moment decision, brought on by State Fair rejection and being kind of stalled out on the work for the September deadline. Trying to stay in gear. Work is kicking my arse though, because it's peak season at my job, and my energy level right now is only middling.

I'm getting the hang of encaustic, pictures soon. Still struggling to remain patient, to slow the process down enough that certain light effects are possible -- it all depends on layers, on heating and cooling. I took some advice and switched to working on two pieces at a time, because this keeps me from meddling with a piece before it is the ideal post-fusing temp. I'm also maintaining a larger volume of clear medium for layers, because this runs out faster, and I get impatient with waiting for medium to melt down. Some new thoughts on encaustic medium: 1. Pellets are easier to add to pigments in order to thin the pigments, but they don't melt any faster than blocks of medium. 2. Pellets create a dish of somewhat cloudier medium when melted, for some reason. I'm only using R&F materials, so there shouldn't be big compositional differences, but I like the speed and clarity with which the block medium melts down. I'm still learning.

And so I leave you with a bit of Winslow Homer. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What I Learned Today: Encaustic 101

Well I did it. After a lot of reading and imagining, I went out and purchased the following: 
$30 electric griddle from Black n Decker
$130 worth of medium, encaustic paints, a brush and a couple of Ampersand boards. And a surface thermometer. When I got home, I pilfered the muffin tins from the cupboard in lieu of special aluminum pots from the Blick store (way cheaper, and I never make muffins or cupcakes anyway.) I rounded up two more natural-bristle brushes from the studio, and ...

Here's what I know after Day 1: 

1. Buy the encaustic medium in beads rather than the bar. They have to be easier to deal with. With the bar, you have to cut hunks off with a hot knife if you're trying to control quantity or mix glazes. It's tricky, and sticky. 
2. I will run out of medium WAY before I run out of pigments! A little encaustic pigment goes a LONG way. 
3. I need more brushes. Big ones. Little ones mean more brush strokes, and more application with the heat gun to smooth them out. 
4. The heat gun is a blunt instrument. It will take time before I figure out how to avoid pushing puddles of pigment around while I try to smooth out brushstrokes and bubbles. 
5. Keep the cat out of the room. 
6. ANYTHING will stick to the board, including buttons, leaves, a funny bracelet, a bobby pin, and cat hair. Especially cat hair. 
7. If you don't like it, scrape it off! Hardly anything is irreversible. I'm especially pleased by this because that's one of the things I like best about sewing.  

8. I have LOTS of mark-making tools! In fact I'm reminded of one of the qualities that made oil pastels so appealing for so long, namely, that you can make marks in it and push it around. Very plastic. 
9. When you start carving into the stuff, beware -- the crumbs stick to everything. 
10. And finally ... MAN THIS IS FUN!

My first experiment with encaustic. Size 8x8 inches. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Our State Fair is a Great State Fair

Well, for the first time I have submitted work for the fairly prestigious Fine Arts Show at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. This one is a nail-biter. These shows are enormous in size, viewed by literally thousands of  people, and tend to be high-quality. Fiber and textiles are an emerging category for this show, and to be included would be significant.

Plus, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the State Fair. Love it. And to be rejected would definitely make me sad.

But, all rejections are a bit painful, and so I have screwed up my courage. It helps that a bunch of textile artists I know have submitted this year. I can cheer my friends who are accepted, and commiserate with those who are not.

Good vibes people!


Adding to my stash of rust-dyed floss and pearl cotton, for use on projects that include rust-dyed cloth. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Keeping Busy

Hail Mary, copyright Jennifer A. Schultz 2014

I reworked the Hail Mary from last summer. Finished it too quickly, in order to have it for the solo show last year, but really felt it had some growing to do. So I removed it from its backing, subtracted a few ugly dogs, and worked the integrate the many layered elements a bit better. 

Hail Mary, detail

Plus, having some fun (encouraged by my online communities) continuing my explorations of organic material dyes and silk-on-silk transfer dyes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fiber art and justice continued...

Jam-making to raise awareness of food waste... 

Fabric puzzle-pieces protesting hunger...

Craftivism in general...

Mini Protest Banners...

Hey, THIS is cool! A few examples of political quilt art here, not necessarily great quality but getting closer...

Quilt panels to end AIDS... and a few other examples up there under the THIS Is Cool link. Collective works, mostly. Ann Morton seems more akin to these.

Back to craftivism again.
Where the object is important...but the text is essential. And so, back to the drawing board for me.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Politics and fiber art: Or, who makes quilts about food justice anyway?

copyright JenniferASchultz 2014

I knew already a year ago that imagery with a distinct political message could be difficult to generate in a textile medium. And before you feminists get all sweaty, let me assure you I know the history of fiber arts as part of the women's movement. But I'm talking about contemporary practice. I'm trying to get a grip on something here. 
There are a few textile artists who manage it well --  Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, Terese Agnew, Ann Morton, others -- with humor or without -- who approach the practice from various backgrounds in various media. I mention these artists because they work on multiple levels, with visual impact, but not in a heavy-handed way. This is a goal of my present exploration of food justice using fiber and textile media. The work I did for my "X-Voto" show in July 2013 -- wherein I examined the lives of first-responders and their experience with PTSD --  felt successful to me in some respects. But I also felt the show was uneven, both in terms of execution quality and the unification of message and medium. 

"Portrait of a Textile Worker", 2011 by Terese Agnew.
"Terese Agnew's work has evolved from sculpture to densely embroidered quilts by a process she calls “drawing with thread”. Her themes are environmental and social. Her most notable quilt to date is the Portrait of a Textile Worker, constructed of thousands of clothing labels stitched together, contributed by hundreds of sympathetic individuals, labor organizations, Junior League members, students, retired and unemployed workers, friends, family and acquaintances worldwide. The resulting image is about the exploitation and abuse of laborers, the by-products of globalization and the insatiable American appetite for goods. " (Craft In America)

Agnew's piece pictured above approaches the subject of women's and worker's rights through both imagery and textile medium -- garment labels pieced together to form the portrait of a textile worker -- creating a message piece with unambiguous impact, elegance, and beauty. When I talk about work being "heavy-handed" I'm thinking about pieces that use, for example, unmodified journalist images or lots of descriptive text applied directly to cloth (notwithstanding ex-voto work, wherein the story is an essential part of the finished piece). I think it's important to recognize within the work that the medium is not merely incidental -- quilts and textiles are culture-bearing objects in their own right. If an image works as well or better on paper versus cloth, taking no meaning from the cloth, then paper or some other medium would perhaps be the better choice for the work.  

"Familia Guarani" - Hand embroidery with cotton thread, jewelry effect thread and rayon on fabric. 2009, Leo Chiachio and Daniel Giannone. 
"Chiachio and Giannone are domestic partners in an open relationship that is characteristically full of good humor, a devotion to PiolĂ­n, and routine daily work on their labor-intensive collaborative embroidery projects. Like most kids who went to Catholic school in Latin America, Chiachio and Giannone were introduced to embroidery by nuns.  When they met at a cocktail party ten years ago, Leo was already having fun with the embroidery of portraits of porn stars from Honcho Magazine onto the exterior of mens business suits.  It was at the height of the Argentine financial crisis.  Paint, canvas and other typical art supplies were scarce and prohibitively expensive.  Daniel had been working in prints, but their romance blossomed and they began to embroider together.  Since then, they have established the rules of their personal relationship and a professional art partnership.  Two of them are “never work when you are angry,” and “go to work every day.”  Their work has caught on internationally, taking them to other Latin American countries where embroidery is a part of the colonial heritage but has also become entrenched in local tribal handcrafts and identities, (In Bolivia most of the embroidery is done by men!), as well as to Europe and the USA." (ARTSHIFT San Jose blog)

Chiachio and Giannone work with masterful command of embroidery techniques while celebrating queerness across cultures and boundaries of traditional Western masculinity. Detail shots of their work are just amazing -- the commitment to detail and quality are obvious.  I admire their decade-long pursuit of a singularly fabulous vision of peaceful equality. 

"Thru the filter of my own experience as a white female born in 1950's America, I explore themes of assumed entitlements, homogenization, marginalization, and human obsolescence – social divides we've come to accept as normal cultural paradigms.
In questioning this acceptance, I recognize the insignificant – marginalized found objects and disenfranchised people. Driven by a desire to make right, the work I do reflects my own handwork, but also orchestrates handwork of disadvantaged individuals or interested community members through public interventions that seek to socially engage the hands of many to create a larger whole.
My work exploits traditional fiber techniques as conceptual tools for aesthetic, social communication to examine a society of which we are all a part - as bystanders, participants, victims and perpetrators." - Ann Morton

The above artist statement by Ann Morton sort of downplays the nuances of "traditional fiber techniques" in favor of a utilitarian approach, but her exhibits clearly benefit from her understanding of these techniques in themselves.  
Google "food justice fiber art" and you'll get a really random assortment of images and links, most of which have nothing to do with what I'm researching (unsurprising). One interesting blog arose from the depths of the web -- 
Fiber Artists for Hope, "a diverse group of artists  committed to creating fiber art that addresses today's social issues, promoting dialogue for change, and fostering understanding." 

Google "art about hunger" and you'll mostly get art about The Hunger Games series (ugh.) And so on. Seems no one has bothered to make much art about domestic hunger since the Depression era.I'm definitely working more from principles than examples. Again, I don't want to look at work from the 1970s for an assortment of perhaps-not-very-good reasons. 
The first three images at the top of this post are images associated with my current project; the center image with silhouettes on green is one its way to becoming a fabric design that I'm printing at Spoonflower. 

More to come...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A little whine with dinner

I have a plethora (however many you think that is) of beautiful books on quilting, fiber art, book arts and the like. They are always at my fingertips, along with certain back-issues of much-loved magazines such as Selvedge or Quilting Arts, not to mention old Gudrun Sjoden catalogs. I have four works in progress laying out in various states of completion, including the crows piece I've had since winter, a Traveler's Blanket (online class with Dijanne Ceval), and two starts on food/justice works for upcoming shows. I also have patterns and fabric out for a curtain I started last December, which I'm being clunky about. I have a nice new work surface, and all the materials I need at my fingertips. And I am dragging dragging dragging my heels. I want to work. I did, a little. I dyed some woven cloth with Setacolors, but my sunprint wouldn't work because the sun went away. And in spite of my heat gun and also a couple hours on the line, the darned thing STILL isn't dry.

I spent the best part of the day being a consumer; and since I've been home, I've accomplished little more than swept floors and a few loads of laundry. I've played a lot of mahjong on facebook. And then a lot of Freecell. I ate a Hershey bar. Made sure the boy practiced his piano, and took a bath. Resolved a few bureaucratic hassles on the phone.

It's been building over the past few days, this muddle. I've watched a lot of TV. Drank some vodka, and some wine. Felt devoid of energy. Could be hormones, partly. Could be the transition between school-year and summer for the family. Decreasing amounts of quiet time, personal space. Seeping angst, and the usual relational struggles (people with lots of ideas about how I could be a better person.)

Art is sometimes a lonely business, and a struggle. It's central to my identity, and when it isn't "right" I feel really down and off. Or maybe it's the other way round?

As a friend said, tomorrow is another day I guess.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Northeast Art A Whirl!

HI All! Please join me at Grace Lutheran Church during this year's Northeast Art-A-Whirl (or during the month of May) to see 11 of my works including THREE new works. Joining me at Grace is artist Stephanie Forsyth of Fiber Nation fame! 
Today's exhibit hours: 1 pm to 5pm. Hope to see you there!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

as the crow flies

Progress is incremental...closer to finished though.

April 16, and it's still snowing.

These are supposed to be Easter decorations for church. Could be a fail, but it's been fun to play around with. Between laundry and cooking, and caring for my sick boy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Birdsong FM!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

recent talking points

It's a crazy time. In the middle of it all -- work, homelife, kid's activities, relationship struggles -- I continue to work on my crow piece and to consider its meaning. It is looking beautiful -- though still lots of work to do, because the vast part of it is hand-sewn. When I'm not stitching, I am 1) Getting upgraded bifocals to make the stitching easier (old lady), and 2) thinking about other birds who are "in relationship" with crows.

copyright Jennifer Schultz 2014

The Snowy Owl, for example. Who will dive at solitary crows at dusk and can successfully kill and eat a crow. Not yet sure what I will do with the graphic above, though I'm thinking of playing with it more on Spoonflower
In other news I was accepted for publication in the online magazine ArtAscent, in February. And I have a small commission to finish, as well as a private workshop to teach, "Fiber Arts Playdate," towards the end of March. (Artist/moms, birthday cake, art, wine. Sounds pretty good eh?) 

I also need to curate a couple shows for work. Sigh. 
Thank God I get to make my own art. I'd lose my mind without it. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What should crows and communion linens have in common? Hmmm.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

thinking about crows

I have capped a fairly long stretch of holiday downtime by catching a bad cold. Consequently, there have been hours and hours spent at home, passing to and fro before the picture window, sometimes sitting down on the couch with a sigh to stare up through the glass. Snow. Bare branches. Little houses with thick white frosting on the roofs, steam issuing from chimney-tops. And crows, lots of crows.

We live one block from the purportedly highest point in the city of Minneapolis, a park called Demming Heights. It is thickly wooded with oaks and maples, and provides a wide vista view to the west, over the rail yard and the parkway, down to the Mississippi river. The block between us and the park is a steep hill to our south. Since there's another hill behind us, to the east, our cell phone reception stinks. But we see lots of urban-adapted wildlife around here -- foxes, raccoon, turkeys, etc -- and of course, the crows. The local flock roosts at night in the trees of Demming Heights, hundreds of them. They swirl through the air, calling loudly, swooping down in small groups to peck at the roadway and poke through the snowbanks. They undoubtedly know where all the local compost pits, bird feeders and restaurant dumpsters are located, omnivores that they are. Not to mention squirrel carcasses, and the fast-food litter that accumulates near parked cars.

Eight, ten, twelve birds appear to play tag from tree to tree, jeering at each other; another half dozen join them, and a few more, and so on, until they decide to forage in the street and so come down to earth, sharply contrasting against the white of the world. And I've become curious about them, finally, rather than distantly annoyed. They're like someone else's noisy kids, running through yards and raising heck.

My first attempt to draw one looked too seagull-ish. So I took out the bird books and did some careful looking. My second attempt (painted with Tsukineko inks, above) still looked a bit too friendly. According to Junebug the cat, also seen above. 

My second attempt wasn't an American Crow at all, which is what we see around here. Instead I painted the Fish Crow, a slightly smaller version, and a bird I've ticked down in south Georgia. 

Grabbed this collage off the interwebs. This is what grows on all the neighborhood trees, now it's January. 

And this is the American Crow, the dude in question. Cornell University is the website to visit when looking for comprehensive information on bird habits, and their page on crows does not disappoint. Everything you didn't know you should know. I tried to paint the feathers of just the wing, and gave it up as a bad job after several hours -- I'll try again later, but there's so much light in there. My ink was much too opaque. 

Is this crow fascination going anywhere? Or is it just a break from sewing? We'll see!